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The Library Building Prior to Hurricane Maria in 2017Dominica Library and Information Service had its beginnings with Reading Rooms which were stated on the island here in 1843.

The first library built in Dominica was the Victoria Memorial Library. It was built on approval given by the Executive Council for the sale of a lot on Church Street and for the purchase of books and furnishings for a new building which would also commemorate the memory of the late Queen Victoria. In 1902 the position of librarian was offered to Miss Bessie Roper by the Board of Trustees at an annual salary of 40 pound sterling.

The Victoria Memorial Library opened its doors, and charged 1p from every one who entered. The library received a yearly government grant of 75 pounds sterling. It was found that the library was too small, and the Governor at the time, Andrew Bell wrote to Andrew Carnegie, retired industrialist turned philanthropist for $7500 for the construction of a larger building. Andrew Carnegie agreed to fund the construction of the building on condition that the government provided a site as well as ten percent of what was given for annual maintenance and books.

In April 1905, the Legislative Council having passed a resolution accepting Carnegie’s offer and his terms. One year later in April 1906, the Carnegie Library (as it was called) was completed. In September of that same year, the library was transferred to the new building, and the Victoria Memorial Library was taken over as the Victoria Memorial Museum. The Carnegie Library was formally opened to the public as a subscription library from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Although the words “Free Library” were inscribed on the building, the library was free only to the extent that anyone could come in to use the reading room. But only subscribers had borrowing privileges. At that time, the collection consisted mainly of newspapers and periodicals. In 1940, with the implementation of a project aimed at setting up a regional library, Dominica received books for setting up a demonstration library. As a result, for a time Dominicans could borrow books free. In 1954 Government took over the administration of the library under the Public Library Act No. 11 of 1954.

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